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Changing Conditions, Unchanged Worldview

Geraghty the Indispensable (Hugh Hewitt’s nickname for Jim) highlights an eye-opening quote from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs regarding the administration’s Iran policy.  

The concerns that we have about Iran are no different than we had last Thursday or last Friday.  Our primary concerns are obviously the state sponsorship and the spread of terror, and their efforts to secure a nuclear weapon.  Those interests — our interests are no different today than they were before the election.  The President remains committed to strong action and principled diplomacy to address our national interests; that our interest haven’t changed regardless of ultimately who the Iranians pick.

Jim points out the troubling nature of Gibbs’ statement, which twice emphasizes the administration’s unaltered view of Iran from a policy standpoint, even as seismic events continue to shift the political terrain in that country.  Unlike the White House, some liberal bloggers like Ezra Klein have taken note of recent developments and are beginning to express considerable self doubt over their own long-held perceptions of the Iranian regime:

…Those of us who have long argued for the fundamental rationality of the Iranian regime have seen our case fundamentally weakened. A rational regime might have stolen the election. But they would not have stolen it like this, where there is no doubt of the theft. This is like robbers leaving muddy footprints and a home address. Tehran’s evident vote-tampering is tempting both domestic revolution and international isolation. That they appear to fear neither says something very unsettling about the mental state of the regime.

Yet the Obama administration remains unfazed, at least publicly.  This strikes me as a dangerous head-in-the-sand posture, underscoring the president’s entrenched belief that the Iran’s rulers are rational and pliable enough to justify direct presidential negotiations–free of preconditions, of course.  That he hasn’t budged an inch from that position, in spite of the events on the ground in Iran, seems rather hard-headed.  

So hard-headed, in fact, I couldn’t help but think back to the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, when emcee Stephen Colbert won a lifetime supply of Lefty street cred by “speaking truth to power.”  He repeatedly hammered President Bush directly to his face, much to the delight of the president’s detractors.  One of Colbert’s most cutting lines mocked Bush’s perceived stubbornness and unflinching commitment to his own decisions:

When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday — no matter what happened Tuesday.

Now apply Colbert’s line to Gibbs’ absurd statement on Tuesday. The White House’s policy toward Iran, he explained, is exactly the same this week as it was last week, despite what happened over the weekend.  Obama’s trademark “pragmatism” on parade. 


Here’s the video of Colbert’s infamous performance (The money quote comes at approx 2:10):



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